22nd May 2018
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Bell will use Faroese meeting to lobby for Norröna sailings to be restored

The Norröna berthed at Holmsgarth.

The Norröna berthed at Holmsgarth.

The SIC will this week renew diplomatic ties with Faroe – partly in the hope of getting Smyril Line ferry the Norröna to stop off in the isles again.

Council convener Malcolm Bell will meet Faroese minister of trade and industry Johan Dahl and its UK ambassador in London on Wednesday.

They will be the first talks between the North Sea neighbours since the election of the new Faroese government in October.

Mr Bell said he wanted to see some form of transport link between the two islands restored. The fact the meeting was taking place in London told a story in itself, he said, as the most convenient way to make the 200-mile trip north to Torshavn is, perversely, via the UK capital.

Shetland Development Trust invested £4.2 million of public money to help the Faroese build the Norröna around ten years ago. But following financial difficulties, in 2007 Smyril Line decided the Faroe-Denmark lifeline service would cease stopping off in Lerwick.

The Norröna has often charged through Yell Sound on her way between the two Scandinavian ports subseqeuently, reminding islanders of the service they once had.

Shetland politicians have regularly called for Lerwick to be reinstated to Smyril’s timetable since then.

“They have a relatively new government, we have a relatively new council,” Mr Bell said. “There are a number of areas we want to touch on, not least of which is the Norröna. I would like to see it coming back, even if it was just for a summer season.

“Apart from anything else, the fact the Faroese minister and Shetland Islands Council have to go to London for a meeting has to prove the point.”

The SIC’s stake in Smyril Line was diluted after the company launched a new share issue in 2008 to stave off the threat of bankruptcy.

It is not clear how much the council’s original investment is worth now. But it is understood that, should it not be possible to restore Lerwick as one of the Norröna’s ports of call for at least part of the summer, the option of selling the shares will be investigated.

Other areas Shetland and Faroe have collaborated on previously include the laying of a subsea telecoms cable to improve broadband internet.

In 2007 a council delegation visited Torshavn to learn more about the Faroese experience of building subsea tunnels to connect its archipelago by road. The SIC’s long term ambition is to build similar links to Unst, Yell, Whalsay and Bressay.

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3 comments

  1. JohnTulloch

    The costs of the inter-island ferry operations are well-known, to the SIC at least, and the cost of tunneling should be well-known and can be confirmed by obtaining a price for one short tunnel as a pilot project. If the annual return from not having the ferry looks good then go ahead and get the experience on a small project, say, the Nort Ness to Bressay.

    If the return is good enough it would be a very worthwhile investment for the charitable trust if the SIC can’t find the money.

    There is of course a big potential return in terms of convenience of access to the isles for residents, industry and tourism.

    It’s no good bleating about the cost of ferries if a twenty-first century solution is available, is cheaper and has been in operation in Faroe for decades.

    Get on and do one!

    Reply
  2. ian tinkler

    As long as this lot keep hacking whales and dolphins to bits in “The Grind” we should have no part or truck with this primitive culture. Mackerel extinction, whale extinction and wanton over fishing. A totally selfish, self-serving group of primative people. We should have no new ties with Faroese until they become civilised and stop desecrating sea life.

    Reply
  3. Harry Dent

    I’d love to see the ferry link to Faroe restored, but an air link as mentioned in other media would be a nice consolation prize. Let’s hope something solid comes out of the meeting.

    Reply

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